Varied shelf life for library reference material

Lisa Goudy
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Laura Shtern, assistant librarian at the Moose Jaw Public Library, stands next to some of the reference material available at the library.

Reference material shelf life differs depending on the type of material.

“There’s all sorts of hidden treasures in reference,” said Laura Shtern, assistant librarian at the Moose Jaw Public Library. “We just did a huge weed of the reference area ... We take a look at everything and decide what stays there, what needs to go somewhere else, what’s going to leave the library.”

She added that sorting out reference material happens every few years or when new material comes in to replace old material. She said the types of things taken out of the collection this year were out-of-date material or material that is no longer useful because people can find that information very easily on Google.

“When we call it weeding, when we remove old things, it’s just like weeding in a garden. You’re getting rid of the dead wood to make room for new growth,” said Shtern. “This isn’t throwing books out. This is just making the collection more accessible to people by removing the things that they don’t really want or need anymore.”

She added there is a constant outflow of material in all sections in libraries around the globe because there is always new material and a limited amount of space. Deciding which material to keep in circulation or for in-library use depends on the book.

“We have books in our section of wedding toasts that have been there for 50 years, but people still look at them all the time,” said Shtern. “There are newer ones in the circulating collection, but at the same time some of these still have use and that material doesn’t have an end shelf life, really, except how long the book can hold together.”

For more information, see an upcoming edition of the Times-Herald.

Organizations: Moose Jaw Public Library, Google, Times-Herald

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